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Subject: Is Afghanistan more dangerous for our troops without extra support?
Aussiegunneragain    3/18/2009 4:06:29 AM
The article below seems to indicate that by sending our Army trainers out with Afghan Forces alone, we are putting them at greater risk due to lower levels of competence amongst the latter. Could the prospect that by sending our own infantry to patrol in greater numbers with the Afghan's we might reduce casualties, be just the thing for the Army getting to deploy the extra troops there that it wants to? --------------------------------------------------------------------- Digger's death exposes Afghan roleFont Size: Decrease Increase Patrick Walters, National security editor | March 18, 2009 Article from: The Australian MILITARY chiefs have defended the support given to Australia's new army training teams in Afghanistan following the death of another soldier, killed in a firefight with the Taliban. Play 12345Loading…Please login to rate a video.You can't rate an advertisement.(5 votes) Dead digger a new dad The latest Australian soldier to die in Afghanistan became a father just days ago. 3/09 Sky News Views today: 1089Sorry, this video is no longer available.The soldier, the ninth Australian serviceman to die in Afghanistan, was a member of the army's newly established operational mentor and liaison team, which is helping to train an Afghan National Army battalion. He was badly wounded while on patrol with the ANA soon after 9am (3.30pm AEDT) on Monday near the village of Kakarak, 12km north of the Australian base at Tarin Kowt. Defence chief Angus Houston said yesterday the infantryman had suffered a serious gunshot wound after his patrol became involved in an intense firefight with about 20 Taliban insurgents using small arms and rocket-propelled grenades. Air Chief Marshal Houston said an aero-medical evacuation was called in and two Apache helicopters sent from Tarin Kowt to help fight off the insurgents. The soldier was evacuated by helicopter to Tarin Kowt but declared dead on arrival. The young soldier, from the Darwin-based 7RAR, was the first member of the Mentoring and Reconstruction Task Force to be killed since its formation last October. His death has brought into sharp scrutiny the roles and missions being performed by Australian soldiers in Oruzgan province. A fortnight ago, an officer with the first of the OML teams in Oruzgan, Lieutenant Jake Kleinman, said he would like more infantry to support operations. "If we were going to increase troops here, I think infantry should be the first step, followed by more engineers to support their operations," he told Sky News. Lieutenant Kleinman said while it was not his job to talk about numbers, up to an extra battalion of infantry (about 750 troops) would be "excellent" for Oruzgan. Some Australian trainers are also understood to have expressed reservations about the fighting prowess of the Afghan army while on joint patrols. Air Chief Marshal Houston said yesterday he was satisfied that OML teams had enough support when on patrol with Afghan soldiers. "I'm satisfied that, in these circumstances, these soldiers had all the support they needed, given the circumstances that they came up against," he said. "If you're up against 20 people who are well-armed and are engaging you with rocket-propelled grenades, small arms, there is going to be considerable risk associated with what you're doing." Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon said the Government constantly reviewed troop numbers in Afghanistan and was guided by advice from defence chiefs. Kevin Rudd said he was deeply saddened to learn of the soldier's death and the nation mourned. "He was a fine and courageous soldier in the great Anzac tradition," the Prime Minister told parliament. Army trainers working in the OML teams are embedded with Afghan army units in forward operating bases away from the main Australian base at Kamp Holland. They help ANA soldiers plan operations, accompany them on joint patrols and advise on tactics.
 
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Arty Farty       3/19/2009 2:25:52 AM
 "Could the prospect that by sending our own infantry to patrol in greater numbers with the Afghan's we might reduce casualties, be just the thing for the Army getting to deploy the extra troops there that it wants to?"
 
The more 'boots on the ground' the more patrolling that can be done - reduces the ability to plant IEDs (especially the big and sophisticated ones) and the ability to organize large attacks.
 
It is probably true that having a company tied to an Afghan battalion is safer and better than having a platoon.
 
(Australian casualties are still relatively light even compared with some battle-shy allies)
 
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Volkodav       3/19/2009 5:54:01 AM
How hard would it be to issue enough small UAV's to allow them to conduct sweeps in advance of patrols? That way our guys could be given a heads up on any thermal signatures up ahead.
 
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Raven22       3/19/2009 6:04:18 AM
The fact that the OMLT might suffer slighly more casualties working alone with the Afghans than if they had more Australian combat power with them is kind of missing the point. It is that kind of force protection or bust thinking that lead to the shitfight in Iraq. The OMLT is obviously there because the Afghanis are crap soldiers - they train them and advise them, but the Afghanis themselves do the actual fighting. If we put more Australian soldiers working with the Afghanis, all that would happen is that the Aussies would do all the fighting, the Afghanis wouldn't get any better, and the coalition would end up being in Afghanistan foreever.
 
The idea is of course that the OMLTs can train the Afghanis up to a standard where they can fight for themselves and take over the job from the coalition, who can then go home, which is exactly what happened in Iraq. The OMLTs aren't exactly on their own now anyway - there is always a coaliton RRF not too far away that can respond to any contact.
 
The short term army increase in Afghanistan will be one or two combat teams to provide extra security during the elections later in the year. Whether that turns into a permanent Australian battlegroup in Oruzgan remains to be seen.
 
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BLUIE006       3/19/2009 8:17:43 AM
Indigenous fire support wouldn't go astray...
 
120mm Mortar
155mm Artillery
UCAV
GMLRS (my preference)
ARH
 
 
 
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Aussiegunneragain       3/20/2009 5:55:58 AM

The fact that the OMLT might suffer slighly more casualties working alone with the Afghans than if they had more Australian combat power with them is kind of missing the point. It is that kind of force protection or bust thinking that lead to the shitfight in Iraq. The OMLT is obviously there because the Afghanis are crap soldiers - they train them and advise them, but the Afghanis themselves do the actual fighting. If we put more Australian soldiers working with the Afghanis, all that would happen is that the Aussies would do all the fighting, the Afghanis wouldn't get any better, and the coalition would end up being in Afghanistan foreever.

 The idea is of course that the OMLTs can train the Afghanis up to a standard where they can fight for themselves and take over the job from the coalition, who can then go home, which is exactly what happened in Iraq. The OMLTs aren't exactly on their own now anyway - there is always a coaliton RRF not too far away that can respond to any contact.
 
The short term army increase in Afghanistan will be one or two combat teams to provide extra security during the elections later in the year. Whether that turns into a permanent Australian battlegroup in Oruzgan remains to be seen.

Reasonable points. The big question in my mind is why after 8 years of war are the Afghan Army still crap soldiers that need to be trained by an army that to be frank doesn't have a huge amount of combat experience outside the special forces? Its weird, like all the good fighters have gone to the other side.

 
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gf0012-aust       3/20/2009 6:37:44 AM

How hard would it be to issue enough small UAV's to allow them to conduct sweeps in advance of patrols? That way our guys could be given a heads up on any thermal signatures up ahead.

well, Raven22 can't shoot me as it's been in the public domain :)  - but there are reported instances of UAV's wandering ahead of some Oz force elements.
 
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AdvanceAustralia    A few possibilities   3/20/2009 2:30:56 PM




The fact that the OMLT might suffer slighly more casualties working alone with the Afghans than if they had more Australian combat power with them is kind of missing the point. It is that kind of force protection or bust thinking that lead to the shitfight in Iraq. The OMLT is obviously there because the Afghanis are crap soldiers - they train them and advise them, but the Afghanis themselves do the actual fighting. If we put more Australian soldiers working with the Afghanis, all that would happen is that the Aussies would do all the fighting, the Afghanis wouldn't get any better, and the coalition would end up being in Afghanistan foreever.



 The idea is of course that the OMLTs can train the Afghanis up to a standard where they can fight for themselves and take over the job from the coalition, who can then go home, which is exactly what happened in Iraq. The OMLTs aren't exactly on their own now anyway - there is always a coaliton RRF not too far away that can respond to any contact.

 

The short term army increase in Afghanistan will be one or two combat teams to provide extra security during the elections later in the year. Whether that turns into a permanent Australian battlegroup in Oruzgan remains to be seen.




Reasonable points. The big question in my mind is why after 8 years of war are the Afghan Army still crap soldiers that need to be trained by an army that to be frank doesn't have a huge amount of combat experience outside the special forces? Its weird, like all the good fighters have gone to the other side.



  1. Lack of motivation among political leaders to create a competent military
  2. Lack of motivation among the troops themselves
  3. It seems more difficult to defeat an insurgency than to conduct one. Hence, the National Army appears less competent in comparison to the Taliban
  4. The National Army is still expanding so there is a significant proportion of troops who are still inexperienced
  5. By what standard are the National Army soldiers ?crap?? By Australian standards, certainly. Australian infantry are among the best trained in the world. Australian infantrymen also have the benefit of a Western education to at least the age of 15 or 16 (and even longer these days I?d suspect) so even the ?lowest common denominator? can comprehend more and display initiative. Afghan soldiers just might be OK compared to regional standards.

 Just some ideas.

 Cheers.

 
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FJV       3/21/2009 9:11:02 AM
The logistics in Afghanistan are more difficult.
 
This may make some forms of extra support impossible. (to keep supplied)

 
 
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neutralizer       3/21/2009 10:02:51 PM
The ANA is going to need a lot of training for many years.  Training an army from close to scratch when most of it is committed to operations is a challenge.  The ANA is also expanding greatly and this means there's a problem with training commanders.  Add to this reported problems with finding enough guys with enough education to be officer candidates, and add to that desirability of including some at western officer training establishments as peers where education will need to be better than the 3Rs.
 
Another method of employing the ANA is to add an ANA coy (with Omlette) to an ISAF battlegroup for specific operations. This has benefits in many ways.
 
Omlettes are the access path to ISAF fire support, etc, another problem is that although the ANA has 122mm D30s and both the US and UK have been training them (UK gets D30 familiarisation training from central European armies) ANA manpower shortage means they keep taking the men away to be infantrymen.
 
155mm fire support is available in Oruzgan from NL artillery.  I'd suggest that the current UK GMLRS coverage also extends into Oruzgan, the question is how far.  However large dumb munitions, eg 120mm mor and 155mm HE are not a great idea, they may be ideal in the wide open empty spaces but most of the action is in the vicinity of the local population, this makes a mix of smart munitions and fairly small dumb ones (eg 81mm and 105mm) generally better.  The issue is the best way of delivering the smart ones.
 
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WarNerd       3/22/2009 2:16:12 AM

Reasonable points. The big question in my mind is why after 8 years of war are the Afghan Army still crap soldiers that need to be trained by an army that to be frank doesn't have a huge amount of combat experience outside the special forces? Its weird, like all the good fighters have gone to the other side.

Simple, most of the ones you had 8 years ago are not there any more.  It is possible that you may not have enough Afghan soldiers with more than 4 years experience in the army to form decent cadre.
 
Afghan allegiances generally run first to his extended family, then local leader or warlord, then usually the tribe, religion, and finally the nation.  A large percentage just do not care much about the success or failure of the Afghanistan the country, and may not fully understand the concept.
 
Many Afghan warriors just show up to get the paycheck, weapons, and some training to qualify themselves for a better paying job in a private warband.  For others, it is a paying job between planting the crops and the harvest, the traditional season of warfare in most parts of the world.
 
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